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Sen. Cruz Supports FAA Reauthorization Bill

Sen. Cruz’s Commercial Balloon Pilot Safety Act will become law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) issued the following statement following the vote in favor of the FAA reauthorization bill. The bill, which passed the full Senate today, includes his bipartisan Commercial Balloon Pilot Safety Act of 2017 and a number of reforms to FEMA, which are crucial to disaster recovery following Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, Irma, and Florence.

“I am pleased to see Congress advance a long-term FAA reauthorization,” Sen. Cruz said. “While this bill is far from perfect, it includes a number of meaningful provisions and reforms that are important to Texans. For example, following the tragic hot air balloon crash in Lockhart two year ago, I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure commercial hot air balloon operators receive medical certificates in order to enhance safety precautions and help prevent a tragedy like that from ever occurring again.

“Additionally, this bill includes a number of reforms to improve FEMA’s disaster recovery programs to expedite Texas’ recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, including measures to improve the way FEMA collects information and communicates with disaster survivors, require FEMA to issue guidance on reimbursing local governments for roads damaged by floods, and allow for Small Business Administration (SBA) loan recipients to also qualify for other forms of aid. 

“Regrettably, this was not a clean reauthorization. This bill includes the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act, which restructures U.S. development assistance by dramatically expanding OPIC. BUILD more than doubles the U.S. lending cap to $60 billion, decreases Congressional oversight, and creates a new authority for the U.S. government to invest taxpayer funds in state-owned enterprises. Moving forward, I will continue to work with my colleagues to address this misguided proposal and safeguard taxpayer dollars.” 

Among other provisions, the FAA reauthorization includes:

  • Sen. Cruz’s bipartisan Commercial Balloon Pilot Safety Act of 2017, which requires medical certificates for commercial balloon operators in response to the July 2016 hot air balloon incident in Lockhart, Texas.
  • Reforms that complement Sen. Cruz’s Space Frontier Act by streamlining regulatory reform efforts for the commercial space transportation sector.
  • Reforms to disaster recovery programs directing FEMA to:
    • Help ensure Hurricane Harvey survivors who received certain forms of federal assistance such as a SBA loans are not later prohibited from receiving other forms of disaster aid.
    • Improve the way it collects information and communicates with survivors after a disaster ensuring that it is done an efficient and less burdensome manner.
    • Provide guidance on how it will reimburse local governments for the damage sustained by flooded roads.
    • Implement actions to expedite and streamline environmental and historic preservation review requirements for disaster recovery projects, in order to prevent the National Environmental Policy Act and National Historic Preservation Act from slowing down recovery efforts and diverting limited local funds from rebuilding to environmental and historic reviews.